Cut Line South Beach Special

By Rex HoggardMarch 13, 2010, 1:50 am

DORAL, Fla. – Maybe it was a less-than-encouraging forecast, or a field that looked more “who’s this?” than “who’s who.” Either way, the buzz about Doral heading into the weekend was something just south of a Heat vs. Knicks matinee.

Good news, however. The answer to golf’s stupor seems at hand, what with the powers that be hammering out a “Groovegate” Détente and one superstar committing to Bay Hill while another plays coy.

Made Cut

John Solheim. The Ping peacemaker had no compelling reason to let the U.S. Golf Association, and the PGA Tour, off the hook, but he did, and the game is better for it.

The word is Solheim’s “Get out of jail free card” came with the stipulation that before the USGA shakes anymore equipment rollback bushes that the manufacturers are brought into the loop earlier and their voices are heard.

No word what this is going to do to the Ping Eye 2 after-market, but we hear Phil Mickelson has a few left-handed versions of the pre-1990 club that can be had for cheap.

Phil Mickelson. Virtually fresh off a plane from Houston, where his wife is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Lefty stood at 4 under par following his second round at the WGC-CA Championship.

Although his scorecard was hardly press-stopping stuff, Mickelson’s start was an encouraging triumph of mind over things that matter at a time when golf needs Lefty more than he needs golf.

On Thursday Lefty also delivered on a promise to add an event to his schedule, announcing he will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational later this month to make up for skipping the WGC-Match Play.

Not a bad trade for Bay Hill, but Accenture must feel like they just dished Michael Jordan for Kevin Duckworth and a player to be named later.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Offense. If reports are correct and Tiger Woods has hired former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer the move would be a strong indication that Camp Tiger has stopped playing defense and started moving north and south.

Fleischer was the architect of shamed-slugger Mark McGwire’s reentry plan to baseball this year and you may not have liked Big Mac’s message but you had to respect the delivery.

How much influence Fleischer has remains to be seen. So far this week reports have surfaced that Woods will make his Tour debut at the unofficial Tavistock Cup, Bay Hill, the Masters and the Isleworth member-member . . . or, something like that.

With Woods it’s probably best to throw a dart at a board, because it doesn’t matter if George W. Bush is barking orders, when it comes to all things golf Tiger only listens to Tiger.

Mickelson II. Lefty get’s the double nod this week for his decision to go with two drivers in the bag at Doral. We’ve seen this movie before at the 2008 U.S. Open and didn’t much care for it then either.

It does, however, prompt a few ideas for other players. Perhaps Ben Crane could play with two stopwatches because one would probably not be enough, Jean Van de Velde could go with two caddies because the first one couldn’t get the job done at Carnoustie a few years back and Ryan Moore could pack away a second wardrobe because the first one never works.

Missed Cut

Monty’s API freebie. Officials announced this week that European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie had been given a sponsor exemption into the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Among the litany of questionable exemptions this year this one takes the taco. Monty certainly has had a wonderful career, but Bay Hill is an important event for many up-and-coming players who will likely need the spot.

Besides, the Tour already has enough grumpy. There’s no need to import it.

Stupid questions. Contrary to our journalism school professor, there are such things as stupid questions. Exhibit A came on Wednesday at Doral when the infinitely-tolerant Padraig Harrington was asked whether a victory this week would be a triumph for Ireland or Britain.

“By asking that question you haven’t shown very much insight into anything so I’ll let you go do your homework,” Harrington said. “I’m not from Britain. I’m Irish. I’m from the other side of the Republic – green, white and orange.”

Color the misguided scribe red with embarrassment.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.